There’s nothing quite like fried chicken. It’s crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and, when done right, packed with flavor. I think it’s safe to say that most places have their own version, and Hawai’i is no exception. This sweet rice flour-battered chicken is perfectly crunchy, salty-sweet, and highly addictive. It’s one of my all-time favorite dishes, and I’m taken back to my childhood every single time I have it. While I believe it’s best served warm with onigiri (triangle-shaped musubi), namasu, and takuan, the way my mom serves it, it’s equally great cold, chopped up, and tossed into a green salad with creamy Asian dressing or atop a bed of cold somen noodles.
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1/4 cup mochiko sweet rice flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions, both white and green parts (about 4 green onions), plus more for garnish
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and extra finely grated
- Neutral oil, for frying
- 3 to 4 sheets nori, cut into 1-inch wide strips (optional)
- 3 cups steamed rice, for serving
Cut the chicken thighs into 2-inch-long strips and place them in a bowl. In a small bowl, combine the mochiko, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, salt, eggs, green onions, and garlic, and whisk until fully combined. Pour the batter mixture over the chicken and mix to coat evenly. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels or newspaper and place a wire rack on top. Fill a Dutch oven or high-sided pot with oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat over medium-low heat to 330 to 340 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the bowl and wrap each piece with a strip of nori (if using).
Without crowding the pot, add as many pieces of chicken as you can to the hot oil; the temperature will drop to between 315 degrees and 325 degrees F when you add the chicken. Fry the chicken for 6 to 7 minutes, turning with a skimmer or long chopsticks to brown evenly. The chicken will be golden brown when it’s done and the internal temperature should be 165 degrees F. Remove with a skimmer or long chopsticks and let cool on the wire rack for 8 to 10 minutes. Continue this process until all the chicken has been cooked. When ready to serve, garnish with freshly chopped green onions and serve with rice.
Reprinted with permission from “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” by Alana Kysar, copyright © 2019. Photographs by Alana Kysar and Brooklyn Dombroski. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.